RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmonders brought their furry, feathery and scaley companions of all shapes and sizes to Shockoe Bottom on Friday afternoon for the the annual Richmond tradition, the Blessing of the Animals.

The species-inclusive event, which was hosted by Richmond Mounted Police and Friends of Richmond Mounted Squad, took place on Friday, Dec. 9 at the Morgan Fountain in the Shockoe Slip. Attendees dressed in their best holiday attire and brought their animals — or just a photo of them — to be blessed by Reverend Karen Thompson and Thompson’s Border Collies.

The annual event began in 1992, and while many pets and companion animals attend every year, the main focus of Blessing of the Animals is historically focused on working animals, like the Richmond Mounted Police horses, Richmond Police dogs and therapy animals.

“Sometimes people forget that there are animals that actually have real jobs,” Sue Ramsey, one of the founding board members of Friends of Richmond Mounted Squad, said.

Ramsey said the event offers a chance to acknowledge the work of these animals, while also giving community members a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

“This time of year, it can be a stressful time for people,” Ramsey said. “We do this just to bring people together. It gives people the chance to come out with their animals, meet the Richmond Mounted Unit and recognize the important work that they do.”

Fountain Bookstore also promised to donate a percentage of its sales on Friday to the Friends of the Richmond Mounted Squad.